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Continental, or as it is sometimes called, contemporary European philosophy represents a range of approaches to academic philosophy distinguished from the analytic modality dominating professional or institutional philosophy in the United Kingdom and in the United States, as in Australia, Canada, and Ireland. Where the analytic tradition itself may be said to trace its own roots to Europe, e.g., positivism may be traced to France and its originator August Comte, and logical empiricism to Germany and to Austria and the writings of Gottlob Frege and Ludwig Wittgenstein and the members of the Vienna Circle, continental philosophy expresses an ideological tradition or style of philosophical thinking rather than a geographical distinction.

The exposition uses specific authors to review the main traditions within continental philosophy, beginning with phenomenology (Husserl) and hermeneutic phenomenology (Heidegger) but also existentialism (Sartre and de Beauvoir as well as Jaspers) as central to classical continental philosophy. The exposition also includes hermeneutics (Gadamer, Ricoeur), aesthetics (Merleau-Ponty), ethics (Levinas, Weil), and even the philosophy of science (Kockelmans, Heelan). Contemporary areas of interest and vitality in distal and sometimes incommensurate connection to this classical tradition range from critical theory (Habermas) to structuralism and poststructuralism (Levi-Straus, Deleuze, Lacan), including deconstruction (Derrida) and the postmodernism that is increasingly out of vogue.



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